The Minimum Wage Must Be Raised

Cassandra Bristol, Staff Writer

   The minimum wage debate is one that is divisive across party lines and among both Democrats and Republicans — as evidenced in the neglect to significantly push any proposal of a 15 dollar minimum wage to be passed as of late. Although controversial, the need to increase the federal minimum wage to a living wage is long overdue and absolutely essential to the survival of working people in America, bringing a multitude of socio-economic benefits.

   Past expansions of the federal minimum wage have been proven to mitigate the effects of racial inequity in the United States. According to Oxford University’s Quarterly Journal of Economics, the “…earnings difference between White and Black workers fell dramatically in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s…” due to the extension of the minimum wage to a wider array of occupations in 1966, proving to boost the economic status of those who had been historically underprivileged ( This suggests that increasing the minimum wage in modern times could further bolster communities that continue to face socio-economic hardships, whether it be from generational poverty, systemic racism, or the extreme impacts of COVID-19 infections and lockdowns on essential workers.

   Aside from collective benefits, workers individually would benefit greatly from this seemingly small increase in pay. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “Minimum wage workers, and low-wage workers generally, are mostly adults and are also disproportionately women and people of color. Workers in every region of the country will soon need 15 dollars per hour to maintain a modest but adequate standard of living” ( Every worker, especially adults who need to support themselves and their families, deserve a wage that can pay for basic expenses.

   A 15 dollar minimum wage — if not larger — has already been proven to benefit workers in other countries. For example, according to The New York Times, McDonald’s workers in Denmark make the equivalent of 22 US dollars per hour, with the price of a Big Mac only increasing about 27 cents, and the Danish federal income tax being only 19 cents higher than in the United States ( Denmark’s economy is living proof that a country can have both a thriving capitalist economy and a belief that workers deserve a living wage, no matter their occupation, treating them with dignity rather than brushing them off as lazy socialists. Junior Paige Nelson said, “I think people deserve to be paid more for the amount of work that they do.”

   A common objection to raising the minimum wage is the idea that it will cause inflation and unemployment, moving the economy backwards. The truth is, a minimum wage increase puts more money in the hands of consumers, allowing for more spending capabilities and further circulation of money back into the economy, which actually bolsters the economy long-term. Regarding unemployment, according to New York Magazine, “Policies that raise minimum wages don’t appear to cause significant job loss. In fact, they reduce poverty” (

   The benefits of an increased minimum wage are numerous, advancing the U.S. economy as well as decreasing poverty. Yet, frustratingly, it seems that the “left” side of the United States’s overton window is not pushing for this policy nearly as much as they should. Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris campaigned on a 15 dollar minimum wage, yet Harris refused to overrule the Senate Parliamentarian who blocked the proposal and Biden has already told governors that the increase “likely isn’t happening,” according to Politico (

   Workers, underprivileged communities, and their allies should do more than settle for the “lesser evil.” Politicians are public servants, who work for the people. They should not stand on their pedestal, telling the people what is best for them; the people should be demanding change from those who supposedly represent them. Progressive movements are rising across the country, and they will only grow larger as Democrats and Republicans both refuse to heal a nation that has been broken for years, decades and centuries.